How Long Does it Take to Diagnose ADHD?


How long should it take to get an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) diagnosis? And if an adult or a child receives a quick diagnosis for ADD, when would you be suspicious of the doctor?


If a doctor or psychiatrist talks with a child or adult for 15 minutes, diagnoses attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) and reaches for the prescription pad to prescribe medications, alarm bells should go off. I typically spend a couple of hours with my patients in the initial interview. I ask a lot of questions and listen carefully to the answers. I get a detailed history, but I do it in a semi-structured way. What’s more, it’s not just a matter of looking for ADD/ADHD. It’s important to screen for comorbid problems with ADD/ADHD -- because the rate of comorbidities and ADD/ADHD is quite high. The problem with the health system is that insurance companies reimburse pediatricians for only 15 minutes of their time.

More Info on Diagnosing ADD/ADHD

Thomas E. Brown, Ph.D., is assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine, and associate director of the Yale Clinic for Attention and Related Disorders. He is author of the new book Smart but Stuck: Emotions in Teens and Adults with ADHD.
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